gradireland nominated for Best Exhibition in the Event Industry Awards 2016

Last month, the gradireland team created a submission to enter the Graduate Careers Fair, which took place on 7th October 2015, as Best Exhibition in the Event Industry Awards. We are proud to announce that that we have be successful in getting shortlisted for Best Exhibition for the awards which will take place on Friday 15th July in the Burlington Hotel, Ballsbridge.


The Event Industry Awards celebrates excellence and showcases the very highest standards in Ireland’s event industry. The EIAs encourage teams and individuals to constantly raise the bar, to innovate and maintain their commitment to achieving excellence. It is the only awards programme to accolade this excellence and a superb opportunity for the Industry to come together and celebrate their achievements.


The Graduate Careers Fair took place on Wednesday 7th October in the RDS Simmonscourt Dublin and was our biggest fair to date. Throughout the course of the day, the gradireland team welcomed over 7,000 students and graduates to meet more than 130 of Ireland’s top graduate recruiters and further study providers.

The event was featured in both local and national media outlets throughout Ireland including The Irish Times, Irish Examiner, and Meath Chronicle, to name just a few. The event was also covered on RTE television and radio and on TV3 news.


Our team spent over a month collating information for the awards submission and were delighted to find out that our submission had been shortlisted. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported us over the past year, in particular all of the students and employers who attended last year’s Graduate Careers Fair.

The full list of shortlists for the Event Industry Awards is available here. To find out more about the gradireland Graduate Careers Fair contact us here.

Full gallery of imagery from the Graduate Careers Fair which was held on the 7th October 2015 in the RDS Dublin is available here.

US Grad Visa Success Stories and How You Can Write Your Own

Into its seventh year, USIT’s USA Grad Visa continues to be an exciting and often life changing opportunity for graduates in Ireland. Most recent graduates face uncertain times once they have finished their degrees, with a jobs market that’s increasingly competitive, coupled with rising accommodation costs and, of course, the attraction of travelling, living and working abroad.

Plenty of grads, as a result, look at their options post college as being career focused or travel focused but seldom both. That’s where a Grad Visa to the US comes in, with US companies more than receptive to pooling employees from Irish and therefore international backgrounds. Heading towards the US presents Irish grads with an incredible opportunity to both travel and add some heavyweight experience to your CV!

USIT have placed thousands of Irish graduates in the likes of New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco over the seven years and with less than 300 positions available for the rest of 2016, all indications are that this will sell out yet again.


USIT have had success stories from all areas of third level study, just like these students who have all flourished in the US in recent months:

Andrew Morrissey left Ireland for New York in May 2015, armed with a Politics & Geography degree from UCD. Having had some exposure to the American way of life and working culture with members of his family working within the US market, Andrew saw a Grad Visa as a ‘rite of passage’ following his studies. After a couple of false starts, Andrew landed an internship with BerlinRosen, a political PR firm in Manhattan and has described the experience as ‘the greatest working experience I’ve ever had’. You can read more about Andrew’s story here.


Alan McGeever, graduated from GMIT in 2014 with a degree in Hospitality Management and with the US, world leading in his industry he decided the US Grad Visa was a no-brainer. After initially locating in San Francisco, an early trip to San Diego had Alan, head over heels for the city so he packed up and headed to SD to look for a suitable role. Taking full advantage of the huge Irish presence in San Diego, Alan landed a role with an Irish-owned research and sales company and ended up travelling throughout the US working with the American Military, researching soldier’s experiences and backgrounds. 8 months in, Alan has seen plenty of the US, including taking in a Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas. Read more here.


Rachel Lynch graduated from the University of Limerick with a degree in History in 2015. Having spent time in Boston in 2010 on a study abroad programme she knew her stay in the US was not finished. Leveraging her degree, Rachel landed a role at History San Jose, allowing her to continue her passion for the past. Her biggest tips in going on a Grad Visa to the States is to do your research before you go and understand the cost of getting yourself set up. Once that’s taken care Rachel got to experience all this…

Will you be the next graduate to relocate to the land of opportunity after college? USIT’s One-Year US Grad Visa Program is still accepting applications until the end of 2016 and there are now less than 300 places remaining with no guarantees as to the future of the Program.

Interested in finding out more? Drop USIT’s Program Manager a line and find out the right option for you! Alternatively you can ring USIT directly on (01) 602 1747.

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Your next steps after the gradireland Summer Fair

Last week saw thousands of students and recent graduates flock to the gradireland Summer Fair in the RDS to meet with graduate employers, further study providers and start-ups. It was a great event with lots of advice on hand, both for those who know exactly where they want to go and for those who need a little bit of direction!


Of course the burning question for everyone who attended the fair is what do you do next, particularly for those of you in job hunting mode? You took the first step at the fair by meeting different employers and (hopefully!) impressing them with your skills and enthusiasm. It can be difficult to figure out how, and when, to follow up with these contacts but that’s where we come in! Follow our tips below and you’ll be on your way to your ideal graduate job in no time.

Shortlist employers

The likelihood is that you spoke with a myriad of different organisations at the Summer Fair, but some organisations and opportunities will appeal to you more than others. As always, it’s important that you consider what fits best with the career path you’d like to pursue. This will help you to focus on which organisations you definitely want to follow up with and which just had the really great free stuff!


Once you have reviewed the organisations you talked to at the event and selected those you want to follow up with, write down the details and at least one follow up action for each employer. This could be writing a short introductory email and sending along your CV, or it could be that you need to research the organisation more before you make any speculative contact.

Contacting employers

The good news is that employers are used to being ‘followed up’ by students and graduates after events such as the Summer Fair – in fact, in most cases, they actually expect it. The important thing here is to follow up in an appropriate manner and to stand out from the other messages they will be receiving. The fair was last week so it’s about now that you should be getting in touch, if you haven’t already.

If you have a personal contact (e.g. rather than, use it. It’s important to remember though that this person is likely to receive many emails from people just like you, in addition to their day-to-day emails! Be polite, be friendly, but keep it business-like. Imagine how many people he/she talked to that day, so your email will probably serve as a second introduction to yourself. Don’t presume the employer remembers any specifics about what was discussed, and use this opportunity to suggest, briefly, why their organisation is where you want to work.

An introduction like this is fine; “Thanks for taking the time to talk at the gradireland Summer Fair in the RDS last week, it was really interesting and made me realise that I’m really interested in a career with (name of employer). As I mentioned on the day, my degree focused on elements which I believe would make me suited for this role, such as….”


As with any job though, make sure you tailor your email for each employer. Don’t spam every email address you got with the same letter, it’s a recipe for disaster! It doesn’t matter if you’ve already given the employer your CV at the fair, send it on again, highlighting where and why you believe it makes you a good candidate for an available position.

End your correspondence with a suggestion of future contact, such as; “If it suits, I’ll give you a call next week to discuss?” Remember, be eager, but if you don’t hear back, wait, try to contain your frustration and remember that if you have a good CV for the role, have done your research properly and there is a role available, the recruiter will be likely be in touch, whether you are ultimately successful or not.

Using social media

Social media affords an easy way of building a professional relationship with employers. But be careful, on two fronts. Firstly, as we have written about before, make sure your social media presence is something that you would be happy for employers to see, and that includes all platforms, not just LinkedIn. Also, LinkedIn is great for research, but don’t try and connect with potential employers in advance of an interview or just after writing to them; it’s not good etiquette and will likely seem far too forward.

No matter the format you use for getting in touch, remember the basics; manners. Thank people for their time, be grateful for their advice and always be respectful. If you do this, invest in your research and be creatively persistent in your approach, your careers fair ‘follow up’ could be very successful indeed.

Remember you can also research employers on the gradireland website for even more information on what different employers are like.

Guest blog: Here’s why professional apprenticeships are an alternative to college



Sandra Harvey Graham of the Insurance Institute of Ireland writes on why the recently expanded apprenticeship schemes represent an excellent opportunity for both jobseekers and industry.

“I can’t get a job without experience. But I can’t get experience without a job.”

Sound familiar? If you’re a graduate in Ireland or a first time jobseeker, the chances are you’ve said these words.

The difficulty for many employers is that graduates are coming out of university lacking key workplace skills necessary to hit the ground running. This is down to the fact that while most college courses teach technical and academic knowledge, students rarely learn the soft skills that are essential to career success.

For graduates, it’s more than disheartening to come out of college after four years and face the ‘at least 2 years’ experience’ criteria on every job spec – even for some entry level roles. Aside from highly competitive graduate programmes or unpaid internships, many graduates are faced with few options other than to take a job unrelated to their qualification. This is where apprenticeships come in.

What’s a professional apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes that combine academic teaching with valuable on-the-job experiential learning; combining technical and soft skills to create the perfect employee for organisations. When you hear ‘apprenticeship’, you probably think of a trade – for example a plumber or an electrician. However, in July 2015 the government announced the expansion of the current national apprenticeship scheme to extend beyond trades and into professional industries; one of which is insurance.

What does an insurance apprenticeship involve?

The Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship is a three-year programme, where apprentices are recruited into an insurance organisation while working towards a level 8 degree – the BA in Insurance Practice, awarded by IT Sligo. This is the first apprenticeship in Ireland to offer a level 8 honours degree. The programme is delivered through a combination of online study with IT Sligo and The Insurance Institute, and on-the-job learning through an insurance employer. The degree portion of the programme is fully funded through the Apprenticeship Council and apprentices are also paid a salary by their employer.


As an apprentice you’ll develop technical insurance knowledge along with transferable workplace skills and competencies. Once you graduate, you’ll be business-ready and extremely employable in a range of sectors. Your employer will support you in your on-the-job learning, with regular one to one personal development sessions with an industry supervisor and mentor. Your mentor will also help you to settle into your role and into working life.


A huge variety of roles are available in the insurance industry including claims, risk management, underwriting, broking and loss adjusting. As an apprentice, you’ll work in one of the three core industry areas – underwriting, claims or direct client advice.

The nature of the programme means that you will learn about all areas of the business and you’ll complete projects and case studies to reinforce learning in the workplace. You will also earn the insurance industry’s benchmark professional qualification the Professional Diploma in Insurance, which means that by the end of your three years, you’ll be compliant to work in any area of general insurance – personal, commercial or private medical.

Who should apply for the apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships aren’t just for those who didn’t get enough leaving cert points for their preferred college course. Applicants include:


  • School leavers who want to earn a level 8 degree without going down the university route. They want to launch their careers straight away while not missing out on the academic advantages of a college degree.
  • Third level students who are questioning the relevancy of their current college course can undertake an apprenticeship without having to incur any extra cost of starting a brand new course.
  • Graduates who want to further their education in the insurance and financial services sector, while gaining valuable workplace experience through a structured programme.
  • Career changes who’ve worked in other industries and wish to start a career in insurance.

When will I start?

The first programme will begin in September this year, with employers beginning their recruitment drives in mid-June.

How do I apply?

Entry requirements include a minimum of 2 honours in the Leaving Cert or equivalent, with a pass in four additional subjects including Maths and English or Irish. If you’re over 23, interviews or other selection tools may be used to assess instead of these minimum requirements. Companies will recruit apprentices through their own processes, however The Insurance Institute will post details of who’s recruiting on their website You can register your interest in hearing more about apprenticeships here too.

Sandra Harvey Graham is Apprenticeship Programme Manager with the Insurance Institute of Ireland.



Five ways to make the most out of the gradireland Summer Fair

The official gradireland Summer Careers Fair is taking place on Wednesday 8th June from 11am – 5pm in the RDS Simmonscourt. Ireland’s top graduate employers will be in attendance, actively recruiting students and graduates in a whole range of disciplines. In preparation for the Summer Fair our team have put together five tips to help you make the most out of the event!

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Use the Jobs Wall

There will be a large jobs wall in the hall at the gradireland Summer Fair. This will have live graduate schemes and opportunities listed, use your phone and take a photo of any that you are interested in applying to – then go home, find the job, internship or graduate programme on and start making applications!

Bring your CV

Many employers are happy to receive CVs at Careers Fairs. In addition, at the gradireland Summer Fair we will be running a specialist CV Clinic, hosted by careers advisors from your University, providing 50 hours of specialist advice, at which you can have your CV reviewed in a one to one setting. However, a word of caution – the CV clinic has a limited number of slots and gets booked up very quickly, so get there early to book your appointment and don’t expect the advisors to write your CV for you – they are there to review and advise but you’ll have to do the hard work yourself first!



Make sure you have researched the exhibitors who are attending, and decide beforehand which ones you would like to talk to. Think of questions which might not be answered already in brochures or on their websites. Many exhibitors have recent graduates now working with them available to talk to you at their stands, so ask them what working life is really like in that company.

Attend the Seminars

Make sure you attend one or more of the specialist careers seminars – they are designed to give you the edge when it comes to applications and interviews! From Assessment Centres to Interview Dressing there is a seminar to benefit everyone. Check out the line-up of seminars for the Summer Fair here.


Download the gradireland Events App

The brand new gradireland events app is your personal assistant for the Summer Fair. You can create a profile, directly contact employers, personalise your seminar schedule and much more! Download it from the App Store or Google Play now.

The gradireland Summer Fair is completely free to attend. Students and graduates can register for free entry here and will also have the chance to win an Android Tablet! Looking forward to seeing you there!